2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge prologue. Panorama photo: Brad Kaminski © VeloNews
Click to see full-sized prologue panorama. Photo: Brad Kaminski © VeloNews

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (VN) — For a team that is just eight weeks away from its demise, HTC-Highroad had a banner day in Colorado Springs on Monday at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge prologue, taking three leader’s jerseys with stage winner (and race leader) Gretsch, best young rider Tejay van Garderen, and most aggressive rider, Colorado Springs native Danny Pate.

It was a bittersweet result for the American team, which announced earlier this month that it had been unable to land sponsorship in 2012.

“It’s a bummer the team is ending, we all wanted it to continue,” Pate said. “No one wanted to leave. Some of us had contracts for 2012, some didn’t. I think almost everyone on the team has places to go, but we’re still sad to leave. Sometimes you see teams come apart, and towards the end of the year they tend to nosedive a bit. But I think our results today shows that the guys are riding well. It shows the class of the team and the whole organization. The guys have come to race, and want to win every day.”

Gretsch blasted the fastest time over the 5.2-mile course in 8 minutes, 27 seconds. Van Garderen finished eighth, eight seconds slower, and Pate finished 11th, at 0:11 seconds back. Gretsch has signed with Skil-Shimano for 2012; van Garderen has been linked to BMC Racing (but has not confirmed it), and Pate told VeloNews.com that he has signed a contract but is not yet authorized to announce it.

310 x 175 for homepage and putting inside articles

Another HTC rider in Colorado who has found a team for 2012 is Peter Velits (who will join Quick Step-Omega Pharma), while Caleb Fairly, Craig Lewis, Hayden Roulston and Lachlan Norris have not yet announced their plans for 2012.

“It’s a sad feeling for everyone,” Gretsch said. “We’re not only a team, but we’re like friends. And when you realize it’s three months until it’s over, it’s not so nice. But that is cycling. We have to look into the future.”

And Gretsch said he is content with his future home at Skil-Shimano, where compatriot and HTC teammate John Degenkolb will join him.

“Skil-Shimano is like HTC in some ways, it’s an upcoming team with a lot of young riders,” he said. “It’s a good home for time trial riders and sprinters. In total we have three riders that rode together on the German U23 team. It’s nice to have people around you that you know already.”